June 2013

Program director Jeff Carson set up an unusual program tonight: A panel discussion on performing for children and family shows. Reba Strong, Peter Cuddihy, Jeff Carson, and Ed Schmitt shared years of experience with thousands of shows, and told us what works for each of them.

Members asked questions throughout, for instance: “What is the going rate for a children’s party show in our area?” Jeff said that many local performers get around $200 to $250, as that’s what the local market will bear. If someone feels that his or her show is worth more, he may price himself out of the local market, even with a great show. Veteran performer George Hample offered that he makes sure not to discuss price early on when speaking to a potential client over the phone. He sells the show first, then gives his price.  Another member recommended that when setting up a website to remember that for most of us it’s for a family looking for a show, and to keep the web site simple. An outline of a typical show on one of the links makes it clear what services are offered.

Another big topic: Crowd and helper control. Jeff Carson uses orange plastic cones to mark the performing area in a home, and has large plastic stars for his helpers to stand on. It keeps them in position for the best responses and control. Also, Jeff said that when he does a Blue and Gold-type show, he recommends that the children and adults stay at their tables so that “Everyone can enjoy the show together.” It also insures that the adults enjoy and watch the show.

Payment for the show? All of the panelists agreed that they ask for payment AFTER the show. Reba said that often she’ll get a tip if the host really enjoyed the performance, something she would not get if she took the check when she got there. Jeff also said it’s a good idea to arrive early, and linger (a little) when the show is done, as it creates a better image of the magician. None of our panelists require a deposit, and Jeff said that rather than a contract, he sends the host an email “Confirmation” for the show when he books it.

After the break, the panel showed some performance ideas. Jeff Carson showed the table he uses, one like the one used by Dwayne Laflin. It allows him to get and ditch props without bending behind a table. Reba had a beautiful backdrop, a Lefler table, balloon bag, and amplifier set up. She also has her logo on the table. She explained how she will arrive at a show site, and meet the hosts. Should they offer to send someone to help bring in her equipment, she does it in one trip with the help.

Peter Cuddihy gave an idea-filled chat on using puppets. He explained dynamics needed to give any puppet life: A conflict with the magician, usually besting the magician and getting the applause. “The puppet always wins!” The eyes of a puppet are also important, Peter said, and he treats it like a living thing, even as far as how he introduces it and puts it away. Peter does a great vent act with a silly-looking bird, but he noted that puppets, vent or silent, add novelty to a show.

If someone had videotaped this meeting, we would have a wonderful DVD to sell! As it was, all members of Ring 6 got to share in the knowledge of our peers.


DAVE KELLY, Recording Secretary

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